978-1-56947-133-3 / 1569471339

Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan

by Ferguson, Will

Publisher:Soho Press



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About the book:

There are two common starting points for travelogues. One is a desire to pursue ancestral roots. The other is a drunken bet. Hokkaido Highway Blues is the latter. After too much saké, Canadian travel writer and English teacher Will Ferguson finds himself following the Cherry Blossom Front, the route Japan's celebrated pink sakura follows. It announces spring, flowering in a wave from the southern tip Cape Sata, through Kyushu, Honshu and Hokkaido islands, to Northern extremity Cape Soya.

Zen says that, "To travel is better than to arrive". This is something people Ferguson encounters cannot comprehend. They offer to pay his train fare. People tell him the journey is impossible, since Japanese never pick-up hitchhikers. Naturally, they're wrong. "When you are a hitchhiker, people spill their lives into your lap," Ferguson says, "because the hitchhiker is a stranger, a fleeting guest, a temporary confidant". He meets tens of fascinating characters, from priests to golf enthusiasts. Their stories are used to explore Japanese culture better than a guidebook, from Shinto to sea gods, pachinko to senpai/kohai (teacher/student roles).

Ferguson, also author of The Hitchhikers Guide To Japan, clearly has a deep knowledge and passion for the country. He's an eloquent writer and his monologue is poetic and spiritual (though with plenty of cheap jokes too). It explores the massive and mysterious country beyond Tokyo, a magical fairyland of monkey islands, wild ponies, active volcanoes, hills, golf courses, beaches and gambling towns. --Sarah Champion

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